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Soundtrack review: Gypsy (Jeff Beal – 2017)

TV

Soundtrack review: Gypsy (Jeff Beal – 2017)

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“Gypsy” is a ten-part psychological thriller that follows Jean Holloway (Naomi Watts), a Manhattan therapist with a seemingly picturesque life who begins to develop intimate and illicit relationships with the people in her patients’ lives. As the borders of Jean’s professional life and personal fantasies become blurred, she descends into a world where the forces of desire and reality are disastrously at odds. The score was written by Jeff Beal.

I watched part of the show and the music stood out in context, sometimes even more than the script. Jeff Beal is a seasoned TV music writer and it is interesting to hear him step out of the politics web and write for a different kind of story about sneaking and manipulation. Still Jeff Beal knows how to write about shadows and darkness and knows how to make them seem seductive and addictive instead of scary and unappealing. I love to hear his now trademark dripping piano motif in the opening cue “Into the rabbit hole”; I can never get enough of the alluring darkness that motif brings and I am happy to meet an old friend from “House of cards”. The next cue is a delicious and mysterious piano theme “Back of the closet”; it brings the seductive sound I was expecting and I am settling into my musical comfort zone with this score just a couple of cues in.

As the score develops with it’s dark and sometimes electronic sound there are standout moments that just leave me speechless, like the piano theme “The contract” which plays hide and seek with my emotions. This is the kind of ambient cue that seduces me irremediably and he kind of theme that Jeff Beal has become a master at. “The contract” is right up there with the best “House of cards” themes.

The majority of Gypsy is mysterious and more light than dark and more functional than emotional. There are fewer orchestral moments than I would have expected. Unlike when I am listening to a “House of cards” score though here I am identifying more clearly the cues that I really love. There are pieces like “If you only had more secrets” that just give me goose bumps with the way the piano seriously and almost painfully tells me a story I was yearning to hear. Emotional cues like this show Jeff Beal at his best. “Good pain, poor Sam” is another one of those seductive piano cues that I could listen to for hours.

For me “Gypsy” is less memorable and rich than “House of cards”; I am comparing it with that because that is the other TV score I heard from Jeff Beal this year. With “Gypsy” he chose a lighter tone that expresses best the duality of the main character or her oscillating back and forth between two lives without settling in one. The score has a lot of electronic moments that make me think of an investigative thriller more than a psychological one. This was an uneven score from Jeff Beal but with a few exceptional peaks.

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 89

Album excellence: 27%

Highlights:
Back Of The Closet
The Contract
If You Only Had More Secrets
Tough Judgement Calls
Good Pain, Poor Sam
Like I Belong
Missed You Too
Staring At The Sun

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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